How to get more wear out of dresses

How to get more wear out of dresses — via Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair

One of my favorite ways to stretch my closet is to remix my dresses. Dresses are definitely the universal "one-and-done" garment, but they are so much more than that! Sure, you can layer over them with cardigans, blazers, or jackets, but most dresses can also act like an extra top or skirt whenever the mood strikes. There are also interesting ways to make them work in the cooler months! Read on for the four ways you can get more wear out of your dresses...


One way to get more wear out of short dresses is to layer skirts over them, effectively making the dress a top. It works best with a somewhat fitted dress in my opinion. I recommend wearing this look on a day that isn't too hot because you'll have two layers on bottom!

What you need: A short, slim-fitting dress + a non-fitted, longer skirt (make sure the skirt length hides the dress length and that the dress doesn't bunch under the skirt)

Modifications: A billowy dress instead of a slim-fitting dress (make sure there's not too much fabric so it can still be tucked comfortably)


As evidenced by the photos above, this is probably my favorite way to mix up a dress! I think it's the easiest method: just pick a top, shirt, or sweater that can comfortably layer over a dress. I prefer cropped sweaters for this look since they hit right at the waist (smallest part of the body), but button-down shirts tied at the waist are an excellent alternative (and you can use sleeveless shirts!). 

What you need: A cropped top/sweater or button-down shirt + any dress (make sure the dress doesn't have details that would show through the top or pick a top/sweater thick enough)

Modifications: A top/shirt/sweater that hits below the waist


When the weather is nice enough to bare legs but still chilly enough to require an extra layer, this look is great to mix things up if you want to avoid wearing a jacket. Sometimes, with the right items, the top/shirt and dress can look like one unit! I think it works best when either the shirt or the dress has a collar but it can still be done if neither have a collar (see third look).

What you need: A sleeveless dress + a tee or shirt (make sure the tee/shirt is slimmer than the dress so it doesn't bunch up underneath or pick a dress that has structure)

Modifications: A top/shirt with wide sleeves instead of slim sleeves


This look is perfect to extend the wear of your shorter dresses into the cool seasons (or to make short dresses more appropriate) and is especially nice if you want to avoid wearing tights. I love this look with my black ponte pants for a simple and chic look but I also plan to try this in the future with skinny jeans! If you're daring, you could even do this with wide-leg pants or flare jeans.

What you need: A short dress that isn't snug around hips/legs + a slim pair of pants or skinny jeans with no pockets (or make sure the dress is loose enough that the pockets don't show through)

Modifications: A long dress instead of a short dress and/or wide-leg pants instead of skinny pants